Leadership & Management

What You Need to Know About Servant Leadership

By Courtney Elder for RallyBright

May 12, 2020

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Many of us have worked in environments with leaders who focus a large portion of their attention on the well-being of their company. No matter the industry you work in or the position you hold, it’s likely that your direct supervisor highlights sales goals, the importance of KPIs, or some other measurable element that correlates to your organization’s bottom line.

Naturally, it makes sense that members of upper management would focus their attention on their company. In recent years, however, a different type of leader has emerged. Servant leadership has become more popular as leaders shift their attention to other areas of their workplace.

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A Simple Servant Leadership Definition

So how exactly would you craft a servant leadership definition?  Simply, servant leadership entails prioritizing the needs of each employee. It involves helping each member of the team develop his or her skills while also placing an emphasis on the inherent priorities of the workplace. Notably, servant leaders serve their employees instead of asking their employees to serve them.

An individual who practices servant leadership focuses on empathy, trust, and respect, and won’t sacrifice their relationship with each team member for the good of the company. Instead, he or she will do whatever it takes to ensure that each person in the company feels valued, and therefore is able to excel in their position.

Five Servant Leadership Principles

If you’re in a leadership position and you want to embody more of a servant-leadership-like attitude, consider these five behaviors:

Be Persistent

Servant leadership doesn’t take a “one and done” approach when it comes to training and supporting employees. Instead, this mindset requires a commitment to ongoing encouragement. Servant leaders are persistent when working with those who are resistant to new ways of thinking. Or when they simply lack the motivation to take on new challenges.

Listen & Observe

Perhaps one of the more crucial servant leadership principles involves both actively listening to those on your team. Important as well is honing your observation skills. When your end goal is to help those around you, the only way you can do it effectively is if you understand what their needs are. Servant leaders regularly ask for feedback and participation from those around them.

Educate Your Team

One of the goals of servant leadership is to set an example for your team. This way they too can grow into their own ability to help others. It’s important that your employees notice your behaviors as a servant leader, but that’s not enough. It’s just as powerful to have conversations with them about how to set their own needs aside and contribute to assisting other members of the company.

Mentor Others

As mentioned above, servant leaders don’t act the way they do for their health. To implement this leadership style effectively, it has to come from the heart. One of the objectives is to help others on your team to tap into their own style of serving, whether it’s nurturing skills that are specific to your industry or even encouraging them on a more personal level.

Employ Accountability

Even the most skillful leaders still make mistakes now and again, and it’s key to demonstrate accountability to your team. By being accountable to yourself and others, servant leaders can help to create an environment that focuses on specific values of both the team as a whole and of each person in the workplace.

Making Servant Leadership Work

When it comes to understanding servant leadership principles, you likely won’t have to perform a major overhaul of your management style. Instead, consider the ways in which you could shift your focus away from things like task lists or giving orders and think about how you can develop goals in a collaborative way. Not only will you likely find more peace when you adopt a servant leadership style, but it’s probable that your team will thrive in this type of environment.

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